Pirate Ophelia, Part 7
Chapter XIX: The Lost One
“Ready the cannons on the starboard side!” Janneke yelled loudly, causing Edward, who was standing near her, to jump.
“All hands on deck!” Edward bellowed when he noticed the ships. “Enemy ships are closing fast!” Every able member of the crew was soon on the deck preparing to battle the oncoming fleet, the HMS Sparrow leading the other two.
“Fire at will!” Janneke shouted.
The cannons fired at random toward the HMS Sparrow, striking the ship in the side. The Sparrow returned fire, taking out several of the crew on the deck. The Hydra had already taken some damage during the battle at Barbados, giving the Sparrow the advantage. The Man O’War ships had spread out to attack the other pirate ships, two of which were attempting to flee the area without suffering further damage.
“Let’s end this,” Janneke said as she turned the ship toward the Sparrow. “We’ll board her and fight to the death,” she said to Edward.
“I’ll prepare the men,” he replied as he headed toward the bow of the ship. He looked over at the Sparrow, hoping to judge how many men were on board. “Prepare to board!” he shouted to the crew.
Edward looked back at Janneke and nodded they were ready. She nodded in return before a blinding flash obscured her from his view. One of the powder kegs on the deck had been hit and exploded. He saw Janneke getting to her feet—the force of the blast had knocked her down. Fire began to spread quickly across the deck, creating a barricade between the bow and stern of the ship. Edward ran toward the helm, jumping through fire in an attempt to get to Janneke. He heard her call Celia’s name before another explosion knocked him off his feet. The main mast crashed to the deck, fire quickly igniting the sails. Edward looked toward the helm of the ship, but it was already engulfed in flames.
“Janneke!” he cried repeatedly, trying to reach the rear of the ship. The fire was spreading quickly and the Hydra began to list to the starboard side, exposing the deck to direct cannon fire from the Sparrow.
“Edward!” a crewman called from a distance. “We have to get off the ship!”
“Not until I find her!” he yelled back.
“She’s gone!” the crewman cried.
“No! It can’t be!”
The Hydra began to take on water, causing it to list more. The ship was quickly sinking, becoming nothing more than a deathtrap of fire and water. Edward refused to leave the ship without Janneke—the friend who had saved him from a boring existence. She had given him hope and had faith in him. She trusted him when no one else would. He couldn’t believe she was gone.
The sea water began to put out the fires as the Hydra went down, surrounding the ship in black smoke. Edward made his way to the awaiting longboat just before the ship went under. He watched as the remaining masts sank into the depths of the ocean. A single tear rolled down his cheek as he watched the ship he called home become part of the sea—a watery grave for his beloved friend and admiral.
* * * * *
James had seen the fleet and had already turned toward it in an attempt to help the Hydra fend it off. He didn’t care what Janneke wanted. He had planned to sink the Sparrow and put a stop to Celia. But he could not reach her in time and the battle started without him. He felt helpless as he watched from a distance. His heart plummeted after the first explosion, and he felt sick after the second. Rose took over the helm and commanded the crew to prepare for battle. They watched as the Hydra began to sink, her crew abandoning ship in an attempt to survive.
Once the Hydra was claimed by the sea, Rose steered the Conquistador to pick up the survivors in the longboat. James anxiously scanned the crew in the boat but could not see Janneke anywhere.
“Where is Janneke?” James asked as the survivors climbed on board the Conquistador.
“She didn’t make it,” Edward stated, a deep sadness in his voice.
James fell to his knees. He had just found her…the love of his life. How could she be gone? How could he possibly go on?
“James?” Edward asked, concern in his voice. “James? Are you okay?”
James stood up and bent over the side of the ship. He had been through so much. Chased by pirate hunters for crimes he had not committed, always needing to be on guard for anyone wanting to collect the bounty on his head. His whole world had been turned upside down when the king turned on him. He was just starting to feel happy again, as if he had a chance at a real life. He and Janneke would retire from privateering and live peacefully. They would raise children in a quiet house on the outskirts of some Dutch town. Now that dream was gone. What purpose did he have in life anymore? To be hunted forever? Or to live knowing that the only thing that ever really mattered to him had been taken away?
He looked out across the water at the debris floating on the surface. Debris of the ship that was now Janneke’s grave. He couldn’t let her go, not with everything that had happened. His life was nothing without her—just another pirate being pursued until finally caught and hung. He watched the debris sway with the waves, the sun reflecting off of the water around it. The Sparrow was leaving the area while the two Man O’War ships fired upon the rest of the pirates.
“James?” Rose had come to his side, leaving Edward in command of the ship. “James…I’m sorry. We will hunt Celia down and kill her for this. You should lie down.”
“No,” he said, anger in his voice. He rushed to the helm and forced Edward out of the way, turning the ship to give chase to the Sparrow—a course that would take them directly between the Man O’War ships.
“Are you mad?” Edward shouted while attempting to retake control of the helm.
“Celia will pay for this,” James growled, his face contorted with rage. The Conquistador sailed toward the enemy fleet, his eyes on the Sparrow. He would kill Celia for this, even if it he died in the process.
One of the Man O’War ships had turned to intercept the Conquistador. It opened fire on them, striking the deck with precision. The main mast came crashing down and several of the crew were struck by cannon fire. James could hear Rose in the distance, but he kept his sights on the Sparrow. He had to kill Celia…for Janneke. The Man O’War came to a halt alongside the Conquistador, its crew throwing grappling hooks onto the deck to pull the ship close. Rose gave the command for the crew to open fire, but there were too many of them. The enemy crew boarded the Conquistador, killing anyone in their path.
James let go of the helm in time to block a strike from one of the soldiers with his sword. He fired his pistol as more men approached him. He could hear Rose calling for him in the distance. The crew was abandoning the ship and she was pleading with him to join them. But he had no intention of leaving. The ship was his home—the place where he felt the most free. He would rather die and join the woman he lost under the surface than abandon the one thing that still mattered the most to him. He loved Rose, but it was not enough. She would no longer be hunted because of him. She would live on.
James felt something hard hit the back of his head and he fell to the deck. He heard the footsteps around him vanish as the enemy soldiers left the ship. Shortly after, he heard the cannons of the Man O’War fire and felt the Conquistador rumble as it took the full force of the cannonballs. He opened his eyes as he felt the ship begin to sink, water soon reaching the spot where he lay motionless. Before he could move he found himself surrounded by water, then blackness began to set in as the light from the surface grew dimmer and dimmer. He closed his eyes and let the water take him to where he would remain forever.
* * * * *
Rose had seen James in the distance, fighting with the enemy on the deck of the Conquistador as it began to sink. She had shouted for him to leave the ship with them and then tried to run to him but was seized by the waist and carried to a longboat. She fought back, not wanting to abandon her captain when he needed her help. Someone held her tightly around the waist as the boat left the area, the Conquistador then sinking to its final resting place. Tears filled her eyes as she realized her home—and her captain—were gone. She turned around to see the person who had saved her life.
Edward sat there, holding her as she cried. He had escaped death twice in one day but had lost one of his closest friends. Rose hugged him for both their sakes. They had both lost those who they held closest in their hearts. Janneke was gone, and now so was James.
* * * * *
Captain Ophelia watched from the bow of her ship as the drama unfolded before her. She saw the Hydra sink, leaving debris and black smoke from the fire and explosions. She watched as the survivors were rescued by the Conquistador, and then as it attacked the fleet, only to meet the same fate as that of the Hydra. She gave the order for the Kraken to pick up the survivors in the longboat.
The Morrigan had slowed its speed to match that of the Kraken, as did the ship belonging to Jack. The three of them were farther out of range, though they worked quickly with the intention of fleeing as soon as the survivors were rescued. Gregor, Frederick, and Victoria had attempted to flee the area unharmed, but Frederick’s ship had taken a direct hit from one of the Man O’War ships. It distracted the large war ship while the other one took down the Conquistador, allowing Gregor and Victoria to escape. Frederick’s frigate was able to gain speed and outrun the Man O’War, though he had lost several of his crew when the ship was hit.
The fleet had planned to meet back in Martinique, so Ophelia hoped to see them there, though she had her doubts. It took a lot of courage to face a real threat, and she doubted everyone in the fleet had that within them. They were all pirates, but they held different ideals. While she and Janneke stood for freedom and justice, she feared that some of the others were only in it for money.
“I wonder how many we’ve lost in all of this,” Erik voiced as the survivors came on board.
“Too many,” Ophelia replied, anger starting to build within her. She looked back toward Barbados, her dislike for the city growing. She wished they would have burned it to the ground for everything it cost them. She looked at the three enemy ships scattered to the north, the Sparrow sitting behind the larger ships as if they were a shield. Ophelia knew the Man O’War ships were too powerful for them to stand and fight. She knew their size would slow them down, so they had a good chance to outrun them.
Once the survivors were safely on board, she gave the command to go to full sail, leaving the enemy fleet and Celia behind them. Ophelia wanted to sink every one of them, but they needed to regroup and make repairs. They had already lost too much.
Chapter XX: Return to Tortuga
The pirate fleet met in Martinique, just as they had done before heading to Barbados, only this time they were fewer in number. Ophelia was pleased to see Frederick, Victoria, and Gregor had waited for them, though she doubted they would continue on to Kingston. Without Janneke or James to lead them, Ophelia stepped up to the task, her anger giving her a sense of power. Even though their trip to Barbados was a success, everyone felt as though they had lost.
Rose and Edward had taken their losses the hardest, both of whom witnessed their tragedies first hand. Ophelia’s anger grew on behalf of the fleet of pirates. She knew that she herself would soon feel a great sadness for the loss of her friends, but right now she needed to focus on her anger to get by and to lead the fleet. She wanted to take away their pain, but she had no way to do it. The only thing she could do was help them get revenge.
“I know we’ve lost a lot,” she began, “but this isn’t over. I am returning to Kingston. I am ending this…for Janneke and James.”
A few of the pirates cheered, though many sat quietly, avoiding eye contact.
“You want to attack Kingston?” Gregor exclaimed. “The heart of the English presence in the Caribbean? Are you insane?!”
“Shut up you coward!” Catarina shouted. “They killed many of us, including our Admiral, so we take the fight to their home turf. This is personal now.”
“Maybe for you!” Gregor argued. “Haven’t enough of us died already? I lost half my crew in Barbados, and all for what? To save five men and grab a few trinkets. It wasn’t even worth the effort!”
“Enough!” Ophelia yelled. “I don’t care what you think. I am going to Kingston. Anyone who doesn’t want to can leave. This has always been a democracy. That hasn’t changed. It never will. I want vengeance for those we lost. I want to finish Janneke’s fight. I want those bastards to know that they don’t own us! We stand for freedom and justice!”
“Aye!” shouted Erik, getting to his feet in his excitement. “I’m with you until the end!”
“Me too,” Rose said, still clearly upset over the loss of her captain.
“And me,” Edward added.
“Who else is with us?!” Ophelia asked, looking around at the defeated pirates. She smiled as over half of them stood in agreement, with the others opting to go their separate ways. She was afraid most of them would feel the same as Gregor and choose not to continue. “Anyone who wishes to join our cause can meet me in Tortuga. For freedom!” she shouted in an attempt to rally the group.
“Freedom!” several of them yelled back.
Ophelia watched as the pirates headed back to their ships. She felt confident that most of them would join the fight, though she knew several of them would choose to part ways. She didn’t blame them for wanting to leave—this was a personal vendetta now and most of them had no reason to continue to fight.
Once everyone else had left, Ophelia, Liam, Erik, Edward, Rose, and Catarina headed back to the harbor together. As they made their way to the docks, Liam pulled Ophelia aside.
“Are you alright?” he asked with sadness in his voice.
“Physically, yes. Emotionally…”
“Let’s go to Saint Augustine,” he pleaded. “There has been enough death. Don’t go to Kingston. My sister lives in Saint Augustine. She will let us stay with her until all of this has died down.”
“I am going to Kingston,” Ophelia demanded. “I need to finish this once and for all.”
Liam opened his mouth to argue but thought on it and decided to stay silent. Her mind was made up and there was no changing it. He knew her too well to bother trying, and instead figured he would do whatever he could to help her succeed and to ensure her survival.
“Keep her safe,” he called to Erik, Edward, and Rose.
“We aren’t losing anyone else,” Rose stated in a serious tone. Erik and Edward nodded in agreement.
* * * * *
The crew of the Kraken had grown closer over the past several weeks. Ophelia was glad to have Edward and Rose on board, partially because it made her feel as if their family was closer to being complete again. There was still a deep hole in their hearts that could not be filled, but Janneke would always be a part of them. She had had faith in each of them and had given them strength. Now they wanted to pay her respect and avenge her. Ophelia wished that James would have still been with them, though she knew Janneke meant the world to him. His life had been chaos until she had brought him hope.
Rose barely spoke of what had happened, still traumatized by the tragedy. Edward had told Ophelia and Erik about the last moments of both James and their beloved admiral. Ophelia knew Edward was still hurting from the loss of his friend—he and Janneke had a deep connection that she respected. Janneke often had that ability with people. It was one of the things Ophelia admired about her the most. She seemed to understand people and was very empathetic toward them. However, Edward was glad to be reunited with Erik. The two were as close as brothers and enjoyed joking with each other to raise their own spirits, either through friendly competition or by pulling pranks on one another.
They had far fewer ships on the return trip to Tortuga. Gregor had left, as well as Victoria, though she was reluctant to do so, only making the tough decision based on what her crew wanted to do. Angelika was still angry over the loss of her ship, and so Ophelia understood when she decided to not go with them. From the little she knew about Angelika, she could tell that the woman was very independent and had the mind of a true pirate. Ophelia often thought of Angelika as a sort of rogue captain who was only helping for the love of defying the world.
Frederick and Jack both decided to continue the fight. Ophelia had figured Frederick would stay—he seemed to enjoy a good fight and hated the English. Jack, on the other hand, was easy going and just enjoyed excitement. The only thing he seemed to love more than a good fight was alcohol, so Ophelia was sure that he was also hoping to plunder several barrels of rum during the upcoming battle.
They had agreed to sail in twos on the way back to Tortuga. They debated sticking together for the whole trip but decided that any English ships in the area would be looking for a group of ships. Rather than sail independently, they opted for a buddy system, pairing Jack’s smaller brig with Liam’s fully-armed frigate while Ophelia’s and Frederick’s frigates sailed together. Ophelia wasn’t crazy over the idea, but she agreed to go along with it.
The journey back was going smoothly, which began to worry Ophelia. They had seen hardly any ships in the area, making her suspicious. Erik was optimistic that they were due a rare bit of luck and assured her that their chosen route was not a heavy travelled one. Knowing that Erik had basically lived on the ocean his whole life, Ophelia felt better after his comments.
Though Ophelia often liked to steer the ship, she kept relinquishing that power to Erik. She wanted to be among the crew and make sure they were alright. They had been through so much already, and now they would be heading into the heart of their own personal drama. While most of the crew were in good spirits, Rose was still very depressed. Ophelia couldn’t help but feel sad for the woman.
“Rose?” she asked as she cautiously approached her. “Are you okay?”
“Not really. I just don’t want to be here anymore…on the ocean. I can’t…”
“You and James were very close.”
“Yes.” Rose seemed saddened by just the thought of James.
“Was there something…between you?”
“It wasn’t like that.”
Ophelia noticed Rose seemed to be agitated by the question. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”
“No, it’s just,” she lowered her voice to a whisper. “James was my brother. Well, half-brother.”
“At first we kept it a secret because we didn’t want the crew to think he favored me over any of them. After a while it just became habit. Plus I know the English would have tried to get to him through me. Use me as bait or something.”
“Yeah, I could see that happening.” Ophelia smiled at the thought of English soldiers trying to kidnap Rose. The woman was very feisty and an excellent fighter.
“I’m sorry we didn’t tell you before.”
“It’s perfectly understandable.”
“We didn’t grow up together. We just happened to meet in the town of Nassau. He was recruiting and I signed up. We bonded right away and then discovered later that we have the same father. It was as if fate pushed us together.”
“It’s great you found each other and grew so close. I thought from the beginning that he was in love with you, but then he told me he loved Janneke and I was confused.”
“I think he loved the admiral from the moment she went to Cartagena to find out the truth.” Tears welled up in Rose’s eyes again, though she did her best to hide them.
“It’s okay to cry. You have every reason to be upset. He was your family and you loved him.”
“I know,” she said, wiping her eyes. “I just…I just want this to be over. I want to find a place to settle down. I love the sea, but there has been so much heartbreak. So much pain.”
“Yes,” Ophelia said softly, her eyes filling with tears, too. “There has been.”
Chapter XXI: One Last Mission
Ophelia and Frederick were the first to arrive at Tortuga. While the crew enjoyed themselves in the tavern, Ophelia and Rose waited anxiously at the docks. Ophelia couldn’t shake the memory of waiting for the rest of the fleet on Martinique before Barbados. They had lost one of their own then and she hoped more than anything the same thing hadn’t happened.
“There!” Rose called, pointing at two ships in the distance.
Ophelia breathed a sigh of relief. She recognized the Morrigan almost immediately, though something seemed off. As the ships came closer, she could see they had both taken damage, except she couldn’t remember how much damage was still visible before they left Martinique. She held her breath as the two ships docked, searching for any sign of the captains. She saw a figure leaving the Morrigan and could tell it was not Liam.
“We were attacked,” Catarina said gloomily as she approached Ophelia and Rose.
“Is everyone okay?” Ophelia asked.
“…they took Liam.”
Ophelia suddenly felt weak. She leaned on Rose for support while her head cleared.
“Who was it?” Rose demanded.
“Celia,” Catarina growled.
“Of course,” Rose exclaimed in anger.
“Gather everyone,” Ophelia commanded. “We’ll repair what we can quickly, and then we are leaving.”
“Aye captain,” Catarina said.
“You know she’s setting a trap for you, right?” Rose asked.
“Yes, and we are going to walk right into it. She doesn’t know what she’s up against, so we are going to show her.” Ophelia knew Liam would be alive—the bait in Celia’s plan to tie-up the last loose end. “There will be no mercy,” Ophelia added in anger as she boarded the Kraken.
* * * * *
Ophelia waited impatiently that evening in the tavern as repairs were made to the ships in the harbor. She was anxious to put an end to the drama—the constant threat that was tearing her family apart. She once loved Celia, but she had had enough. She had lost Janneke, one of her closest friends, and James, who meant the world to Rose. Now she had lost Liam, her childhood friend and the man she cared about. She had not been sure of her feelings before, but it was obvious to her now that Liam had been taken. She cared more for him than she thought she did and would walk into an obvious trap to save him. She had always cared for him and was not going to lose him now.
The rest of the pirates had gathered in the tavern, treading carefully for fear of Ophelia’s mood. Rose, Erik, and Edward tried to calm her, fearing that she would make poor decisions in her anger. Ophelia appreciated their efforts, though she had never felt more focused.
“Listen up,” she said angrily. The pirates all turned to face her. She could see fear on some of their faces. While she liked the thought of being feared, she knew she needed them to focus. They would be walking right into a trap, and she knew some of them would not be returning. “I know we’ve lost a lot, and I know we haven’t gained a lot lately, but we are in this for freedom, not just treasure. One of our own has been taken and is being used as bait for us to walk right into their trap. We are going to do just that, only we are going to be prepared. This is going to be a difficult fight and we will face strong opposition. We are going to attack Kingston—the pride of the English in the Caribbean. As always, anyone who doesn’t want to go along can stay behind. We will be setting out tomorrow shortly after dawn. For freedom and justice!”
She left the tavern as soon as she had finished her speech, fearing that most would disagree with her plan and choose to stay behind. They had followed her up until now, but this was a different situation. This was a personal matter and Kingston was a heavily guarded city. Barbados was tough enough—this would be worse.
Ophelia boarded the Kraken and stood on the deck as she often did. She looked up at the stars in the clear sky above. She remembered the night when James came to talk to her. The night when he confessed his love for Janneke. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Now she was alone.
Rose boarded the ship shortly after and stood beside her, staring up at the stars too. “You think they would have actually retired?” she asked out of nowhere.
“What? Oh, you mean Janneke and James. Probably.”
“I would have liked to retire with them. Help them raise kids. I never had the desire to have a family of my own, but I think I would have enjoyed being an aunt.”
“I think you would have made an excellent aunt.”
“Liam loves you.”
“He does? How do you know?”
“James told me everything. Liam told him shortly after you came back into his life. He never forgot you.”
Ophelia smiled to herself. She still wasn’t sure of her feelings for him, though she knew she had to save him. They had been very close as kids, and that feeling had returned the moment Liam entered her life again. She had always missed him.
“They are all in,” Rose stated.
“What?” Ophelia asked, confused.
“The pirates. All of them. They are all going tomorrow. We’re all in this until the end.”
“Good. Now let’s hope we survive this.”
“We will,” Rose said confidently before leaving the ship.
* * * * *
The sun shined brightly the next morning, the masts of the ships casting shadows on the shore. Ophelia had been awake since before the sun rose, anxious to head out and end their ongoing battle. Most of the crew were already on board and ready to go. Erik and Edward were making their final checks of the ship and her crew before they set out. Rose stood at the larboard side, gazing out across the ocean.
“If you settle down, don’t you think you’ll miss it?” Ophelia asked her.
“Maybe, but I miss land. The smell and feel of grass and dirt. The sounds the waves make when they hit the shore.”
“The safety of having a real home,” Ophelia added.
“A ship can be a real home. It just depends on the person.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“What about you?” Rose asked. “Do you think you’ll retire someday?”
Ophelia watched the waves in the distance as she considered Rose’s question. “I don’t know,” she said honestly. “Maybe, but I think I’d miss the sea too much. The smell, the rock of the boat. It’s what I’ve always wanted.”
“It’s your home,” Rose voiced softly.
“Yes, I think it is.”
“We’re ready to go,” Erik interrupted. “Everything is checked and good.”
Ophelia made her way to the helm of the Kraken, still thinking about her discussion with Rose. She had never felt more at home than she did on her ship. She loved her actual family and wouldn’t have traded her time with them for anything, but she was finally home.
Ophelia gave the command to set sail and the ships left the harbor, the Kraken taking the lead on their way to finish their fight for freedom.
Chapter XXII: Sparrow’s Trap
Celia approached the jail cell on the Sparrow where Liam was being held. She knew Ophelia would come after her in an attempt to save him, but she was beginning to have doubts about her place in the entire mess. Janneke was gone, along with James, and Celia saw no reason to hunt down Ophelia. James was the true criminal, and now Janneke was an unfortunate casualty of his lies.
“They only wanted peace!” Liam spat at her as she came closer.
“They were criminals,” Celia replied.
“What crimes had they committed?”
“Well, for starters, James was a murderer.”
“Lies. He murdered no one. It was all just lies to shut him up.”
Celia hesitated for a moment. “You would say anything to win your freedom.”
“You go ahead and keep believing what the English tell you. One day they’ll come after you, just as they will have you hunt down Ophelia.”
“Ophelia is a pirate.”
“She only wanted justice and freedom for herself and her friends. Freedom from the crown and the web of lies they have spun. They’ll turn on anyone in order to get their way.”
“I’ve heard enough of this,” Celia grumbled as she turned to leave.
“If you want the truth,” Liam continued, “go to Cartagena and find a man named Rupert. He’ll be at the governor’s mansion. He will tell you the truth.”
“Rupert?” Celia asked, her curiosity piqued. “The governor of Barbados? The one James killed?”
“The very same,” Liam said with a smile. “Oh he’s alive and well and hiding from the English. You find him and you will learn just how corrupt your government really is.”
“I won’t waste my time with this nonsense,” she said as she headed toward the deck, leaving Liam to shout curses at her. She looked out across the ocean to the south. She couldn’t help but wonder if there was any truth in Liam’s words.
“We will arrive in Kingston by tomorrow,” Miguel stated as he approached her.
“Change of plans,” Celia replied. “Set a course for Cartagena.”
“I need to speak with someone there,” she said before heading into her quarters.
* * * * *
“Captain,” Miguel called from the deck. “We are approaching Cartagena.”
The journey seemed to take much longer than anticipated, but Celia had to know if Liam was telling the truth. She stood at the bow of the HMS Sparrow as they docked in the harbor. The city was larger than she expected, with a large fort watching over the port and guards everywhere.
“Wait here and watch the ship,” she said to Miguel before leaving. She was afraid the Spanish city would not welcome a ship flying English colors. She was relieved to see several English merchant ships in the harbor, making her feel more confident that they would not be attacked while visiting the city.
Celia made her way through the crowded streets to the governor’s mansion. She hoped they would allow her to speak with Rupert, if he actually existed. She hoped Liam was lying and that she would find nothing, though something told her he was telling the truth. Janneke had said many times that she often trusted her own gut, which Celia always found funny. Now she was beginning to understand. Her own gut had told her to wait just south of the island of Puerto Rico, and that was where she captured Liam. She boarded his ship quickly while the Man O’War ships held off the other ship, with orders to not sink them. She took Liam and sent the two ships on their way, laying a trap for Ophelia. She knew Ophelia would see through her plan but would still attempt to rescue Liam—the woman had a bit of a hero complex, though it was minuscule when compared to the one Janneke had possessed.
The street to the governor’s mansion was not as crowded. Celia noticed there were heavily armed guards everywhere. She approached the gate and cleared her throat to get the attention of the nearest guard.
“I’m looking for a man named Rupert,” she stated.
“¿Qué?” the guard asked.
“Oh dear…um…Señor Rupert?”
“Ah, sí sí,” the guard nodded. “Señor Rupert!” the guard called.
Another man approached the gate. He was very well dressed and carried himself with confidence. “What do you want?” he asked.
“Are you Rupert?”
“I am. Who are you?”
“I’m someone looking for answers. I knew Captain James.”
“Ah…James!” Rupert exclaimed. “How is the lad?”
“I’m afraid he’s dead.”
“Oh…” Rupert said with a frown. “I am very sorry to hear that. He was a very dear friend of mine and he will be quite missed. Tell me, did he at least get to clear his name?”
“Clear his name?” Celia asked, deciding to play dumb.
“He never told you? He was accused of killing a few people, including me, and all so the English king could keep him quiet.”
“Why would the king want to keep him quiet?”
“James refused to give in to greed. The king doesn’t like that. They don’t like it when you don’t follow their rules exactly how they want. There was a woman trying to clear his name. Very pretty, but a bit too aggressive for my tastes. Did she send you?”
“Yes,” Celia lied. “Thank you,” she said as she walked away, half in shock by what she had just heard. Everything she had been told was a lie. Janneke had found the truth and chose to fight for what she believed in. There were two sides to this fight, and Janneke had been on the side of right. Celia realized that she was the bad guy—she had hunted them down and killed them for crimes they had never committed.
She walked back to her ship while her mind raced. If she walked away, they would hunt her down as they did with everyone else. There was no escaping. She had to either continue with her plan or go into hiding forever. Her thoughts dwelled on the Hydra and the fire that burned the deck of the ship. She didn’t want that to be her fate. She couldn’t live her life knowing that she was being hunted. The English had taken care of her. They gave her a job and paid her well, surely she could do one last favor for them. After all, Ophelia had committed acts of piracy by now, so she was guilty.
“Set a course for Kingston,” Celia said to Miguel when she returned to the ship, and then headed straight to the cell where Liam was being held. “I’ve talked to Rupert,” she told him.
“So now you know the truth,” Liam said with confidence.
“Ophelia is still a criminal.”
“She was only trying to protect her friends! Ones who were falsely accused!”
“She’s a pirate, and I catch pirates.” Celia smirked at Liam before leaving him again. She had no intention of killing Ophelia, but she would catch her and see that she was shown some leniency. She entered her quarters again and sat down at her desk, looking over her maps. They would reach Kingston within two days. She hoped they had enough time to prepare for Ophelia’s arrival.
* * * * *
The crew of the HMS Sparrow walked the streets of Kingston to the governor’s house, keeping Liam under heavy guard. The governor happily greeted Celia with a hug upon her arrival.
“News has spread that you took down the pirate Janneke!” he exclaimed. “Is that true?”
“Yes,” Celia replied plainly.
“What about James?”
“He’s dead too.”
“That’s wonderful news! And what word do we have of Ophelia?”
“I have captured her friend and am going to use him as bait to lure her here.”
“Then I will give you my best guards,” the governor said. “I have good news. You’re getting a promotion!”
“Really?” Celia asked, trying to muster some excitement at the news.
“Yes. I am promoting you to Commodore!”
“Thank you,” she replied.
“Now, I will leave you to your mission. Take whatever guard you need. I will be in my study.”
Celia turned to face the guards standing nearby. “Take the prisoner to the holding cells,” she demanded, pointing at Liam.
“You will regret this,” Liam said as the guards led him away.
“Maybe I already do,” Celia said quietly so no one could hear her.